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Indigenous Youth Incarceration and Education - Panel Discussion

Melbourne Educators for Social and Environmental Justice (MESEJ) and Arena present: Indigenous Youth Incarceration and Education - Panel Discussion*

*This event will be held on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We wish to pay respect to their Elders, past, present and future. Their sovereignty was never ceded.

Indigenous young people make up 53% of Australia's incarcerated youth population, yet less than 6% of 10 to 17-year-olds in Australia are Indigenous. In Victoria, Indigenous young people make up only 1.6% of the population aged 10-19, but still represent 16% of those incarcerated or serving a community service order. On average, they are 12 times more likely to be locked up than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

What role does education play in the lives of young Indigenous people before, during and after their time in detention? Do we have a school-to-prison pipeline here in Victoria? What needs to change within the education and criminal justice systems to keep Indigenous young people out of detention?

In a panel discussion moderated by Natalie Ironfield, Brendan Murray, Corallanne Pohlman and Seth Nolan will consider the connections between Indigenous youth incarceration and education.




Brendan Murray is the Director of Article 26 Education Consultants. He is the former Executive Principal of Parkville College, the Victorian Government School for all young people detained in custody within Victoria. In 2009, Brendan was recognised with the Inaugural Australian Government Closing the Gap Award and the Victorian Outstanding Secondary School Teacher. In 2014, he was recognised by Monash University as a Distinguished Alumni by the Education Faculty. Brendan is of Yuin and Irish descent.

Corallanne Pohlman is a proud Murri woman from Far North Queensland. She was born and raised on Boonwurrung Country, though her family ties are to Yidinji country. Her experiences studying education and working as a Youth Justice Worker in custodial settings led her to question the effectiveness of teacher training programs to prepare teachers to create culturally safe spaces for Aboriginal students. She seeks greater accountability of education workers and policy-makers for the longstanding school-to-prison pipeline operating throughout Australia.

Seth Nolan is a Gunditjmara man raised on Jarra Country, with an ongoing connection to the Kulin Nation. With a background in education and family therapy, he is the Aboriginal Program Coordinator at Parkville College, facilitating cultural programs for Aboriginal young people in custody. Outside of work, Seth and his brothers run a not-for-profit organisation Tongberang’i Ngarrga Inc., meaning ‘Born to Dance’ in Woiwurrung. Its purpose is to enable Aboriginal people of all ages to connect with one another, while expressing Aboriginal culture to the wider community through the medium of electronic dance music.

This event is free and open to all members of the public. 

Please note that this event will be held in an old building. Although it is possible to enter the building and discussion space in a wheelchair, it would not be possible to enter the toilet cubicle in a wheelchair. We apologise for this issue. Please get in touch if you have any other questions regarding accessibility.

You can book your ticket here:

MESEJ will also be hosting an organising meeting the following week to discuss and plan responses to the issue of Indigenous youth incarceration. Discussion will focus on what we can do as teachers within schools, however there is scope for coordinating a broader campaign, so we encourage all interested people to attend.

When: 2-4pm, Saturday, 18th of August, 2018
Where: Room 105, Level 1, 100 Leicester Street, Parkville, VIC, 3053.

For more info:,